The Debswana Managing Director, Jim Gowans, has conceded that mining operations at Debswana are the most obvious environmental challenges that impact on water resources. He said the mine utilizes large quantities of water and contributes to pollution of fresh water resources which are critically in short on supply.
Speaking at a Botswana innovation Hub Clean Tech Center of Expertise, a two-day stakeholder workshop this past week, Gowans said that “the other obvious impact comes from mines’ huge demand for energy which is currently coming from fossil fuel-based energy sources”.
Gowans┬ásaid that the mine had also come to appreciate that such a demand in energy can be supplemented by production of renewable and sustainable energy through solar and bio fuels.
“The services do not come cheap hence the need to strike a balance and embark on a long-lasting solution through the development of Clean Tech Center of Expertise to help identify and implement sustainable energy conservations and environmental solutions,” he said. “With all the challenges that affect the mining operations, the company has now identified a number of synergies with the Clean Tech initiative at Botswana Innovation Hub. This is a concept that Debswana embraces as an example of forging new ways of doing business in our industry.”
Gowans added: “I was pleased when approached by the Botswana Innovation Hub regarding the possibility of partnering in the Clean Tech Centre of Expertise programme because Debswana has a mandate in the development of sustainable mining process and is keen on developing partnerships that have both business and corporate social responsibility elements in the context of Clean Tech.”
┬áHe said that each of their mines operate under an ISO 14001 certified environment management systems.
The development of the Botswana Clean Centre of Expertise within the Botswana innovation Hub Science and Technology Park is intended to help diversify Botswana by creating new innovations, business and partnership projects that employ Batswana within the innovation Hub framework.
Gowans said Clean Tec Centre of Expertise is intended to develop solutions for environmental challenges in the country and the region, adding that Clean Tech prevents adverse environmental impacts and adhere to the best practices of developing new clean and sustainable power generations with less impact on the global climate change.
He said the Botswana Innovation Hub has partnered with Lund University and Krinova Science and Technology Park from Sweden, both with successful Clean Tech Development Progrmmes, to make the one in Botswana more successful.
Botswana Innovation Hub Director, Cluster Development, Badzanani Tachepa, said the clean tech does not have any negative impact on the environment because, ideally, it is trying to address environmental issues.
“It is basically trying to find more effective and efficient ways of sustainably removing any impediments currently occurring,” he said, adding that the Clean Tech will create more employment which doesn’t need to be a highly knowledge intensive sector, but will create simple jobs that every ordinary Motswana can be employed into.
Tachepa said that the first phase of Clean Tech started in September 2009 and is expected to be completed by August 2012.